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Who said: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index A > John Arbuthnot Quotes

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John Arbuthnot
(baptised 29 Apr 1667 - 27 Feb 1735)

Scottish mathematician, physician and satirist who introduced the subject of probability to English mathematicians. As a satirist, he created the John Bull character iconic of an Englishman.


Science Quotes by John Arbuthnot (10 quotes)

Mathematical Knowledge adds a manly Vigour to the Mind, frees it from Prejudice, Credulity, and Superstition.
— John Arbuthnot
On the Usefulness of Mathematical Learning, (3rd Ed., 1745), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Mathematics (587)

All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.
— John Arbuthnot
Richard Garnett, Life of Emerson (1887), chap 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Politics (77)

Among innumerable footsteps of divine providence to be found in the works of nature, there is a very remarkable one to be observed in the exact balance that is maintained, between the numbers of men and women; for by this means is provided, that the species never may fail, nor perish, since every male may have its female, and of proportionable age. This equality of males and females is not the effect of chance but divine providence, working for a good end.
— John Arbuthnot
'An Argument for Divine Providence, taken from the Constant Regularity observ’d in the Births of both Sexes', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 1710-12, 27,186.
Science quotes on:  |  Genetics (98)

Biography is one of the new terrors of death.
— John Arbuthnot
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (227)

It is impossible for a Die, with such determin'd force and direction, not to fall on such determin'd side, only I don't know the force and direction which makes it fall on such determin'd side, and therefore I call it Chance, which is nothing but the want of art.... .
— John Arbuthnot
Of the Laws of Chance (1692), preface
Science quotes on:  |  Chance (122)  |  Probability (83)

John looked ruddy and plump, with a pair of cheeks like a trumpeter.
Describing John Bull.
— John Arbuthnot
The History of John Bull
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (227)

Law is a Bottomless-Pit, it is a Cormorant, a Harpy, that devours every thing.
— John Arbuthnot
The History of John Bull
Science quotes on:  |  Law (418)

The Mathematics are Friends to Religion, inasmuch as they charm the Passions, restrain the Impetuosity of the Imagination, and purge the Mind from Error and Prejudice. Vice is Error, Confusion, and false Reasoning; and all Truth is more or less opposite to it. Besides, Mathematical Studies may serve for a pleasant Entertainment for those Hours which young Men are apt to throw away upon their Vices; the Delightfulness of them being such as to make Solitude not only easy, but desirable.
— John Arbuthnot
On the Usefulness of Mathematical Learning, (3rd Ed., 1745) 8.
Science quotes on:  |  Error (230)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Religion (210)

The first Care in building of Cities, is to make them airy and well perflated; infectious Distempers must necessarily be propagated amongst Mankind living close together.
— John Arbuthnot
An Essay Concerning the Effects of Air on Human Bodies (1733), Ch. 9, No. 20.
Science quotes on:  |  Disease (257)

The Reader may here observe the Force of Numbers, which can be successfully applied, even to those things, which one would imagine are subject to no Rules. There are very few things which we know, which are not capable of being reduc'd to a Mathematical Reasoning, and when they cannot, it's a sign our Knowledge of them is very small and confus'd; and where a mathematical reasoning can be had, it's as great folly to make use of any other, as to grope for a thing in the dark when you have a Candle standing by you.
— John Arbuthnot
Of the Laws of Chance, or, a Method of the Hazards of Game (1692), Preface.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Mathematics (587)



Quotes by others about John Arbuthnot (2)

If the world had but a dozen Arbuthnots I would burn my [Gulliver's] Travels.
Letter to Pope, dated 29 Sep 1725, when Arbuthnot was seriously ill
Jonathan Swift, Thomas Sheridan (ed.) John Nichols (ed.) The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift, (1808) , Vol. 11, 297-8.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (227)

...a man estimable for his learning, amiable for his life, and venerable for his piety. Arbuthnot was a man of great comprehension, skilful in his profession, versed in the sciences, acquainted with ancient literature, and able to animate his mass of knowledge by a bright and active imagination; a scholar with great brilliance of wit; a wit who, in the crowd of life, retained and discovered a noble ardour of religious zeal.
The Lives of the English Poets (1826), vol. 2, 257.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (227)


See also:
  • 29 Apr - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Arbuthnot's baptism.
  • John Arbuthnot - An Essay on the Usefulness of Mathematical Learning (1700)
  • John Arbuthnot: Mathematician and Satirist, by Lester M. Beattie. - book suggestion.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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